De La revives old footy trip tradition, with outback Beach to Bush Tour
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
End-of-season footy trips for De La Salle JRL teams typically involve a year’s worth of fundraising and a long weekend of relaxation in a popular tourist destination.
This year’s Under 16s bucked the trend with a trip to the outback they say they’ll never forget.
Age Group Manager, David Luthje said the goal this year was to spend the trip funds where they were needed, and bring back an old-school footy tradition that would see the boys play against a regional or remote rugby league team.
“We had family connections to the town of Coonabarabran, so decided to raise what we could to get there and back, and make what contributions we could along the way,” David said.
“The parents and players pulled together to get the ‘Beach to Bush Tour’ on the road with Bunnings BBQs, merchandise sales and calls for sponsorship.
“We also got in touch with the Clontarf Foundation to see if they’d be interested in organising a game with us and taking donated gear.”
With a busload of players and a convoy of cars packed with empty eskies and donations, the team travelled almost 500 kilometres from Caringbah to Coonabarabran, via Mudgee and Dunedoo for the first leg of the trip.
The following day, they drove a further 240 kilometres out to Coonamble via Baradine and back for a friendly match against the Clontarf Academy kids from Coonamble High School. Coach Dom Cooper said the day out in Coonamble was a rewarding one for both sides.
“Our contact at the Clontarf Foundation told us the Coonamble kids couldn’t stop talking about the day after we’d left. The De La boys presented them with commemorative jerseys to play in, and afterwards they put on a BBQ for us, which was all pretty special,” he said.
“We mixed the teams together so there was plenty of banter and friendly rivalry during the match, but there was one moment in particular that I think will stick with all of us.
“Just before the game started, an older kid turned up to play—barefooted. We found him a pair of boots that fitted him from the donated gear. But then after the game, this same kid came back over, thanked us for the boots, and tried to hand them back!
“We all talked about it later, and I think every one of the boys felt how good it was to tell him the boots were his.”
In addition to football gear and clothing donated to the Clontarf Foundation, the De La Salle JRL community also gave to the Coonabarabran Rugby League Club.